Catcher in the Rye

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Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger, 1952) follows Holden Caulfield from his last day at Pency Prep, after being expelled for failing four out of five subjects, to a mental breakdown in New York city a few days later. Holden starts by telling us that he does not want us to think of this as his life story and the story that follows is an account of the events that happened last Christmas before he had to take it easy (it is implied that Holden is recounting his story from a mental institution following a suicide attempt).

What makes this book especially interesting is that it has been banned in many countries at one time or another and still remains on the banned list in areas of the USA. As well as containing 'vulgar and obscene language', drunkeness, prostitution, delinquency and references to sex it has also been accused of being: 'anti-white' (1963 - Columbus, Ohio), being part of a 'communist plot to gain a foothold in schools' (1978 - Issaquah, Washington). A shipment of the novels, a gift for the Australian government from the US Ambassador, was seized by Australian customs in 1957. The books were later returned.

Catcher in the Rye gained even more notoriety in 1981 when Mark Chapman approched John Lennon on the steps of the Dakota Hotel, New York and shot him five times killing him. Chapman then removed his copy of Catcher in the Rye from his pocket, signed by Lennon earlier that morning, and tried to read it. Consipracy theorists have claimed that Chapman was a Manchurian candidate and the assasination was triggered by Catcher in the Rye. However; Chapman, as well as planning Lennon's killing, had previously attempted to commit suicide and was known to be in a state of clinical depression.

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